Saturday, April 10, 2010


63 years ago today, Branch Rickey signed Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson to a contract to play baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson thus became the first player to break the color line as a Negro athlete in the Major Leagues.

I was just shy of my 7th birthday then but I soon became a fan of Jackie and the Dodgers. That lasted for some 50 years, until the Arizona Diamondbacks came to my adopted state.

Jackie was, and is, a legend as he kept his mouth shut and his volatile temper under control in the face of bigotry from his competition and even many of his fellow players. He also became one of the greatest players to ever don a uniform, especially famous for his base stealing feats, including stealing home.

Regrettably, complications of heart disease and diabetes brought Jackson's life to an end at the age of 53. But he will be remembered always by baseball fans.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Springing into color

I have been late in showing some of the color this spring but I snapped a few photos today.

Curiously enough, while all of these trees and flowers are blooming mightily, there is still quite a bit of snow on the mountaintops clearly visible from within the town. (These photos were all taken either in or near to the BRD's front yard in Prescott, Arizona.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Guitar Hero

I ran across this video while doing a Google search on Stevie Ray Vaughan. Stevie was one of those fantastic Texas musicians who come along once every once in awhile, that can make your hair stand on end. Take a look and listen.

Stevie died at the age of 35. Not of drugs. But because some dumbass helicopter pilot flew him into a hill in Wisconsin in the middle of the night.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter dinner

SWMBO comes up big on holidays. We're not big on such days but she can outdo herself in the kitchen.

So we started with some delicious deviled eggs.

Then there was the centerpiece . . . a pork loin.

Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

It's even better when coated with gravy, accompanied by dressing (not stuffing) and some delicious sweet potatoes.

Trust me. It was as delicious as it looks.

Mag 8

A mystic globe
entraps a futile struggle
between a man
and a Roc.

Or is it a Phoenix Bird,
rising from the ashes
of the man’s

I gaze at the scene,
unfolding its miniature terror,
and I wonder . . .

What bird is this?

What dreams are these?

What is this thing?


Read the thoughts of others at Magpie Tales.

And, Willow, thanks for driving me crazy with this prompt!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A little mystery

"So what's the deal, Frankie?"

"Boss, there's a new girl in town. Dark hair, nice eyes, sassy. Goes by the name of Tess. Tess Kincaid. We're not sure yet what her racket is but she looks dangerous."

"Tess Kincaid. Now that's a monicker. You got any background on her at all?"

"Well, we hear she came from Dillinger country . . Indiana . . but she turned up here around Columbus some time back. And get this . . . we only just found out her real name. She's been goin' by the name of Willow and claims she lives in a haunted house that she calls Willow Manor."

"A haunted house?"

"Yeah, she claims people have heard strange noises at night and even seen wispy spirits walkin' around. But she doesn't seem scared of 'em at all, just kinda laughs it off."

"Hmmm, that's a little strange. Any idea what she does to keep payin' the rent?"

"Apparently she doesn't have any problems there. She's got some guy who travels a lot who takes care of that. So she just stays at home and writes poetry."


"Yeah, she's pretty good, too. Whimsical, I think they call it."

"Well, she sounds harmless but let's keep an eye on her."

"O.K. Boss. That'll be a pleasure."

"Tess Kincaid, aka Willow. Interesting."


This little mystery was prompted by a blog posting here this morning. I just couldn't resist.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yellow is the color of Spring

Yes, we do have daffodils in Arizona. Just down the street, as a matter of fact. Click on the picture for a better view.

This was brought up by comments posted on my Mag 7 posting yesterday. Enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mag 7

Magpie Tales is a writing exercise begun for bloggers, poets, writers and the like by the illustrious Willow of Willow Manor. Each week she posts a photo and she and the rest of us are to write "something" . . . a poem, a vignette, or whatever based on the photo. This week is a bit different as we explore Magpie Tales 7.

"We all live in a yellow submarine,
a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine,
We all live in a yellow submarine,
a yellow submarine, a yellow subm . . ."

What’s that?

A daffodil?

Are you quite sure?



Never mind, then.


I told you it was different. To see the other creations click here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday, Sunday

I know, I know.

I haven't posted since Monday. Living on my Mag 6, you say.

Well, not really. I just haven't had a thing to say. I've been watching the NCAA basketball tournament and following, with glee, the fortunes of Butler's Bulldogs, which are in the Final 4 next week.

I've been keeping tabs on a friend, who is in the hospital.

I've been reading "Game Change". It's a book in the likes of those written by Theodore H. White but it's more superficial. Maybe it's perfect for this era but it's fun, with lots of gossip on the 2008 presidential race.

And I've watched a couple of movies - "The Men Who Stare at Goats" - a totally mindless hour and a half but a bit funny; and "Broken Embraces" - with the perfectly lovely Penelope Cruz and her favorite director, Pedro Almodovar. That one was better.

So, you see, I've been kind of busy. I'll be back.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mag 6

I passed through the gates at the institution for the criminally insane, past thick iron bars, past stolid armed guards. I was told bluntly to stop, to raise my arms and was frisked thoroughly. As the guards eyed me, seemingly hostile, I felt a nervous tremor in my stomach. I was not a threat but they didn’t know that. They knew only that I was here to visit one of their most dangerous prisoners.

Burt Jensen had been born in a tarpaper shack on a dirt poor northern Wisconsin farm. He lived through his childhood in that shack with only a small iron stove for heat, sleeping on a ragged pad with one blanket on the floor in one corner of the single room that housed them all. His mother had died giving birth to him. He had one brother four years older, who used to beat him nearly every day and steal food from the tin plate on which he ate. Those were the good days. The day his father, Olav, didn’t beat him.

One night they both beat him, kicked him into a small bundle and left him on his pallet while they laughed and drank the evil smelling alcohol they brewed out of potatoes. Later that night, after they had passed out, he took a knife and cut both of their throats.

When the police came to take him away, he was hollow-eyed and chanting, over and over

Cops call it

That’s all the authorities ever got out of him. Just that mad rhyme. That was all he had ever spoken since that horrible night.

So now he was here. In the bowels of this huge grey institution. And so was I.

I was a reporter. After months and months of effort, I finally had been granted this opportunity to talk to Burt Jensen. Was I fearful? Oh, yes. Even in spite of knowing that he would be shackled, hand and foot, and I would be "protected" by the armed guard in the same room.

So I entered. And waited. The room was empty except for a small wooden table and two straight-backed wooden chairs.

I jumped as I heard the door clang open. And Burt Jensen came in, with a guard holding tightly to one arm. His dark hair was disheveled and hung down on his forehead. His eyes were on the floor. The guard roughly pushed him down into the chair by the table opposite me. I sat and, slowly, his eyes rose to my face. They were blank.

My long sought interview was a disaster. Burt Jensen didn’t answer any of my questions, he didn’t respond at all, he just stared. Not at me, exactly, but through me. He sat still for the entire time, just staring.

Finally, I had enough. I gave up. I turned off my recorder, looked at the guard and nodded. He took Burt Jensen’s arm and raised him from his chair. And I turned to leave. As my back turned, I heard, for the first time, Burt Jensen’s voice.

Nails in his arms,
Spear in his side,
Jesus Christ
Was crucified.

I stood there, stunned, as he repeated the words over and over again as the guard shouldered him down the hall. His words grew fainter as my hands gripped the edge of the table in an effort to stop the trembling.


This is the sixth in series of weekly writing exercises initiated by Willow, who posts a photo and invites people to write a poem or a story or an essay based on it. You can learn more and read other entrants' writings at Magpie Tales.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

R.I.P. Stuart Udall

A son of Arizona, former U.S. Interior Secretary Stuart Udall, died yesterday at the age of 90.

My favorite line from his obituary in today's New York Times reads as follows:

"When he was 84, at the end of his last rafting trip on the Colorado River, Mr. Udall hiked up the steep Bright Angel Trail from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the south rim, a 10-hour walk that he celebrated at the end with a martini."

That is a man I can idolize.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A nearly private concert

My cousin, Bonnie, has become a musician, playing with a number of groups in Billings, Montana. She plays bass, fiddles some, some keyboard, maybe a little guitar and Lord knows what else. She and a group of friends decided a trip to the Southwest was due and they arrived this evening. After dinner, we all repaired to their motel where they had imposed on the night manager to allow them to do some pickin' in his lobby.

They are, from left to right, Larry, Cousin Bonnie, Clayton and LaLonnie.

LaLonnie plays a mandolin which was made for her by another friend in Montana.

Larry is a fine singer and guitar player as well as the comic virtuoso of the group. (Ask him to sing "I Don't Look Good Naked Anymore!")

Clayton is the true professional musician of the group, playing guitar and mandolin and singing with a sweet tenor voice.

Everyone sings. LaLonnie and Bonnie combine for some beautiful duos.

Several people wandered through the lobby during their one-hour pickup concert. During a break, one pleased young man said "I thought it was the radio!"

These talented musicians are on their way to Scottsdale where they have a couple of gigs planned, then home again to Montana.

Lot of talent up there in Montana.

Spring is here!

60 degrees at high noon, on its way to 70 today.

A fine day for a bit of drinkin' of the Guiness!

Update - 4 p.m. - the high reached 71 degrees (F). What a fine day it is!

Viva San Patricio - Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mag 5

The Captain's Hand

It was made of smooth, tooled wood with amazing hinges at the joints of the fingers. It was a hand. Even the fingernails were delineated. When I first saw it, the fingers were half-clenched. It was beautiful. And it was hideous.

As I gazed at it resting on black velvet in it’s glass case in the seafarers museum, a chill ran over me.

I could only think of the captain.

Like the legendary Captain Ahab, he had lost part of his body in a battle with a whale at sea.

His "hand" was hand-crafted in Sweden by an artisan some years later.
It never worked very well. It was supposed to be controlled by nerves in what was left of his arm. But it didn’t. When he wanted to put it forth to grasp another’s hand, it frequently shot up the middle finger in what was thought to be an obscene gesture.

Needless to say, the captain had few friends.

His life became more restricted, more lonely, and he retreated to a small cabin near the sea on a remote coast.

He slowly became more remote himself, refusing to answer letters from family and friends of his former life. He eventually was thought to have died, passed into the beyond.

Yet he lived on.

Until. Yes, until. A long forgotten, nay, long ignored former love of his came to find him in his self-imposed exile. She had searched for years and finally learned the location of his self-imposed exile. And eventually she came.

But she was too late.

All she found was his artificial hand, floating in the surf, just offshore from his tiny cabin on the rocky crest of land.

It was slightly clenched, as if frozen and no longer defiant.

She took it and cleaned it and kept it.

In a small glass box, lined with black velvet.


This is the fifth in a series of writing tests based on photo prompts put forth by Willow. You can read other entrants' offerings at Magpie Tales.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday night

Most of the nation (U.S.A.) went on Daylight Savings Time today. Arizona, sensibly, did not.

Arizona State University's basketball team was passed over for the N.C.A.A. tournament today. The N.I.T. tournament picked them as the #1 seed. The University of Arizona was passed over by both tournaments.

Glenn Beck has suggested that anyone who is a member of a religion that supports "social justice" shoud leave it. Beck is a member of the Mormon Church. No word yet on when he's leaving it.

The "media" is saying this is crunch week for the Obama administration's push for health care reform. Time will tell.

The weather is warming here in Arizona. The forecast is for the 60's all week. I'm ready.

That is all.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This godawful winter

When I got up this morning and looked out the window I couldn't believe my eyes. Two to three inches of snow covered everything, all fallen overnight. I had an early doctor appointment so had to scrape the windows of the car free of light ice and snow, then watch for slippery spots on the way into town.

By 5 o'clock this afternoon it was 50 degrees and the weather person says it will reach 60 tomorrow.

How can a person achieve any stability in his life if the weather can't?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Another recommendation

Regular readers of this blog will know about my involvement in Magpie Tales, a creation of Willow which gives the would-be writers in the blogosphere a chance to give it a try each week. I say "would-be writers" but there are some professionals involved to give the rest of us something to shoot at. One whose writing I dearly enjoy is Vicki Lane. Check her out at one of her several blogs but you can start at Vicki Lane Mysteries. She's a treasure.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring in Indiana

A cousin on SWMBO's side of the family raises bees in Indiana. He has just sent me a photo of a couple of his bees enjoying the first spring flowers there - some crocuses. It's such a beautiful photo I had to show it to you.

Mag 4

The continuance of Magpie Tales. This being the fourth . . I offer this small fable. You can read the offerings of other writers by clicking here.

"What the hell is that thing?"

"It’s an elephant."

"Awfully small elephant."

"It’s a baby. A young one."

"Well why do you have it? You carry it with you all the time."

"It brings me good luck."

"Good luck! We’ve been in this damned prison for nearly 27 years! Some good luck."

"But we’re still alive aren’t we?"

"Sometimes I wonder about that."

"Have to keep on believing though. One of these days it’s all going to get better."

"Yeah, one of these days we’re gonna die and then it all WILL be better."

"Ah, now, you’ve got to have hope. Be like the elephant."

"Ha! How long does an elephant live?"

"They say it can live for some 70 years."

"Yeah, and how old are you now? 72?"

"Oh not quite. But I still have hope."

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Several weeks later – the guard opens the cell door. It is February 11th, 1990. After 27 years, Nelson Mandela and his cellmate are released from prison. Mandela leaves the small elephant on the sill of his barred window, smiles and walks out into a changed world.

It has been questioned as to whether this story is true or not. One fact is accurate. Nelson Mandela was released from prison on February 11th, 1990 after 27 years of confinement. The rest . . . is all my imagination.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


So, I got 5 for 7. I missed on the Best Foreign Film, picking "The White Ribbon" to win and I went away from the favorite, Sandra Bullock, to pick Meryl Streep for Best Actress.

But . . . all in all . . . 5 for 7 isn't bad.

Me and my big mouth!

I should have known better.

Yesterday I was bragging to some friends back East that it was pushing 60 degrees here. This morning, it became evident that rain had fallen during the night. And a little while ago . . . WHAT? SNOW? AGAIN? YeGods!

Now the good part is that it's warm enough that most of it is melting as soon as it hits the ground. But it is sticking on other things. Like the car. And the garbage can lids. And the satellite dish. THE SATELLITE DISH? Yes, and once it gets a nice coating, our television service cuts out. And tonight is the Academy Awards telecast.

So I finally did something I'd been told about once and kept putting off. I got the ladder out, climbed up to the satellite dish, brushed the snow off and then sprayed the entire surface with Pam Olive Oil cooking spray! I know. It sounds crazy. But I've been told that the slippery surface will then cause the snow to slide off and not stick. So far, so good. But we'll see. I have my fingers crossed.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Forgive me. I am captivated by clouds.

Recession? What recession?

Construction is speeding along on an orthpedics center on the "backside" of Prescott Valley.

Meantime, down at Glassford Hill Road and Lakeshore Drive, another project is underway. This, I am told, will be a Maverick service station and store.

(Sorry for the slanted photo . . I took it out the side window as I was driving by.)

In addition, but not pictured, a new doctors' office is being constructed in the growing medical center of Prescott Valley.

And another dollar store is about to break ground on the east side of P.V.

As my contact (a high-ranking city government official) said, "not bad for a recession economy."

Not bad, indeed.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lily and Jet

The BRD and her beau spent a couple of R&R days in Scottsdale. SWMBO spent the two days at the BRD's house so her cats wouldn't get lonely. She snapped a few photos and here are a couple of my favorites. Jet (obviously) is the black boy cat. Lily, still showing a bare spot where she had her neutering (or is it spaying) surgery is carefully watching the camera.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Magpie Tales 3

This was a tough one. I couldn’t summon the muse at all, no matter how many times I looked at that damned picture of a kilo weight. Coming from a certain generation, I kept getting hung up on that word "kilo".

Back in the day . . . way back in the day . . . I have to confess to a momentary fascination with the effects of marijuana. It only lasted for a short time. A couple of days. Or was that weeks. Or months. Or years. I sort of forget. But it is far in the past now. (That makes me think of the scene in the movie "It’s Complicated" where Meryl Streep and Steve Martin are sharing a joint and one or the other of them says (approximately) "This sure is different from what we smoked 30 years ago!")

Anyway I had a friend . . . back in the day . . . who smoked way more than I did. One time he went to Hawaii and while there acquired a sizeable amount of what was known as Maui Wowie, much of which he brought back to the mainland in his wife’s suitcase. She didn’t know it was there until they got home and boy was she pissed at him.

He decided to share his wealth with me and mailed a package of it to me. It arrived at my home when no one was there, with his return address on the outside of the package. AND WITH POSTAGE DUE!!!

Now there’s a sidebar to this. Our yard at the time had a large number of snails. I had told him we were going to gather them up, purge them by feeding them cornmeal and then cook them up for an escargot feast. Snails . . . or garden slugs, as he insisted on calling them . . . were not his cup of tea. But when he was in Hawaii, he toured a botanical garden and took an extreme close-up photo of the biggest snail I’ve ever seen. In the picture which topped off his "gift", it looked about the size of an old Buick.

Well, the good news is the postman didn’t open the package, we paid the postage due, we didn't "process" the snails and the rest is lost to history.

Until Willow’s photo prompt for Magpie Tales 3. And the only thing I could think of was this little limerick.

The mailman while making his rounds,
Brought a package that brings joyful sounds,
A box of fresh weed
All foil-wrapped, indeed,
A kilo that weighs two-plus pounds.

And if that's not enough, you can join in and/or read much more from more talented writers at Magpie Tales 3

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A rant

O.K. It's time for a rant. Those of you who don't want to read this should delete it now.

Our sainted Arizona legislature, overcome by Republicans, has decided rather than try to solve its budget crisis that the most important thing to do is to object to President Barack Obama's right to serve. To wit, that he is not a citizen of the United States. He has never produced a birth certificate that confirms that he was born in Hawaii (a state) but that his birthplace was in Kenya. There is a photo circulating on the Internet showing a sign that says "Welcome to Kenya, birthplace of President Barack Obama." Of course, it has been shown to have been Photoshopped and is totally false. But the "birthers" still proclaim it.

Now, a crazy woman from a place known as Skull Valley, in Arizona, has introduced a bill in the Arizona legislature to insist that future candidates for the presidency proclaim their birth as U.S. citizens.

It is obvious hatred.

What is painful is that some 40 members of the legislature (Republicans all) have signed onto this crazed piece of legislation.

What is wrong with them? Are they crazy? Or are they just so biased against a popularly elected president of the United States that their sensibilities have become enraged and biased?

Lucy Mason, Andy Tobin and their co-horts in the legislature should be ashamed of themselves.

And most of all . . . Judy Burges, who sponsored this abominable legislation.

If you, as responsible voters, have any common sense at all, you will vote against all of these people in the future.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

An Elvis breakfast

Elvis Presley was known for some pretty unhealthy eating habits, like his deep fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. But I adapted that for a tasty breakfast snack this morning. First I toasted an English muffin, then spread it with creamy peanut butter and topped that with a sliced banana. Very good! I'd show you a picture but I ate it before I thought of the camera.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympics Fever

I was about to turn out my light and go to sleep when SWMBO called from the other room: "Did you see that?"

I obediently padded down the hall and said "What?"

She said a woman from a two-woman bobsled team had just been thrown out of her sled and skidded down the track on her backside.

I asked if the sled had run over her and SWMBO responded "No, she was behind it."

I unfeelingly said "I don't really have any use for the Olympics, winter or summer."

SWMBO responded sharply "Oh, yes, you'll watch 9 months of baseball or football games on television."

. . . . .

After thinking that over, I returned to the fray and said, smartly, "Baseball is the national pastime and I'd certainly rather spend my time with it than to watch a bunch of silly girls fall out of sleds or a bunch of girly-guys use brooms to sweep the ice in front of what they call a stone!"

. . . . .

I know.

I'm going to pay for that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Catalyst's big Oscar predictions

I'm 11 days ahead of the actual ceremony but here are my Oscar winner picks at this year's Academy Awards for 7 awards. An asterisk (*) indicates I have not yet seen the movie.

Foreign Language Film:

"The White Ribbon" *

Supporting Actress:

Mo'Nique in "Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire" *

Supporting Actor:

Christoph Waltz in "Inglorious Basterds" *

Actress in a Leading Role:

Meryl Streep in "Julie and Julia"

Actor in a Leading Role:

Jeff Bridges in "Crazy Heart"

Best Director:

Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker"

Best Movie:

The Hurt Locker

I know this goes against the huge push for "Avator" and James Cameron and I have not seen the movie. But I was so impressed by the Hurt Locker and by the fact that this high testosterone movie was directed so well by a woman that I can't overlook it. And things I've read about Avatar and its big-ego director make me believe the Academy may turn on it.

March 7th . . we'll all see.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Magpie Tales II (Two)

The Hotel Forum. Now, the Hotel Crowne Plaza. In Bratislava. How the times have changed. Slovakia. It dates back to 270,000 BCE. Before the Christian Era. Not the hotel. The country. But it’s all changed. Now the Hotel Forum is the Hotel Crowne Plaza. It’s still across the street from the Presidential Palace. But it’s different.

Restaurant Magd a Lena is still there. But there is now Restaurant Fusion. Fusion? What the hell is that? Fusion music is awful. What can the restaurant be like?

But . . . the Forum. Let’s take it back in time.

I was there in 1959. It was dark then. The rooms were lit by multiple candles. It was warm, from the heat of many fireplaces and by the ambience of those candles. Hundreds of candles, throughout the restaurant and the hotel and the halls. Candles in sconces on the walls. Warm. Beautiful.

There were exotic women in gorgeous gowns. Men in tuxedos. Gourmet meals. Champagne.

And then.

(No, I didn’t wake up.)

There was more.

I was posing as a businessman but I was really an operative for a government agency I won’t identify, even now. I waited inside the hotel lobby, looking for a certain man.

Then I saw him. He was tall. He had a dark moustache. He had dark hair. His eyes were intense, also dark, betraying nothing except that he was dangerous. He and I had long been enemies. I had been told he was in Bratislava to assassinate the president. He was Drago.

Our eyes met and he smiled slightly as we nodded to each other. I walked slowly into the cognac bar at the hotel. He followed. I sat at a small round table. He gazed around the room. We were alone in the room except for a bartender who was watching a noisy soccer game on the television over the bar. Then he approached me, pulled out a chair and carefully sat down at the same table. We each ordered and the bartender brought us our cognacs. I gazed into his eyes as we both sipped from our glasses. We knew we were enemies. Yet friends.

I drew a cigarette from my pack of Gauloises and offered him one. He declined and took one from his own pack. A Russian cigarette. He took out the matches from his box . . . Hotel Forum, Bratislava . . . and moved to light his cigarette. In the glare from his matchlight, I quickly pulled my silenced gun and shot him between the eyes. And killed him. The bartender heard nothing over the blaring sound from his television.

I left Drago’s burnt match lying across the open box on the table and slipped quietly out of the bar.

The president was safe.

For now.


This is the second in a set of writing exercises under the name of Magpie Tales, organized by Willow. You can read more and join the fun by clicking here.


We got hit with a snowstorm this morning. Not much but enough to whiten the territory.

By noon the sun was out and the snow was rapidly melting. But my buddy, Reed, has visitors in from Juneau, Alaska, and they (Princess ME and her guy JO) said it was colder with more snow than they had at home!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Winter returns - - - - - maybe

Today was a perfect example of that old saw - "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute."

The weather forecast says we could get 5 to 8 inches of snow tonight. We'll see.

Update: It's now down to 1 to 3 inches of snow if we get anything.

In the meantime, here are some sky scenes all shot within a few minutes of each other.